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Author Topic: New product coming soon: XPOI  (Read 32056 times)
virtuali
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« on: October 03, 2008, 10:15:49 PM »

Hello to all,

time has come to finally present our next product, which you might have seen hinted on the main webpage as "Coming Soon". It's called XPOI, which stands for: Points of Interest for Flight Simulator X

It's our first product written entirely using our new Python scripting/simulation engine for FSX and, as you might have imagined, is a native FSX-only product.

What is XPOI ?

XPOI is a geographical information tool, that will open up an entirely new dimension for your VFR flying. It has been often said that FSX is the better VFR sim. With this tool you'll be able to enhance your visual flying experience, getting to know what's around you. Flying in unknown areas will become an entirely different experience, and flying over your backyard might give you a new perspective of your local area.

How it works

XPOI runs as a plugin of the Couatl script engine for FSX that you already encountered at JFK airport. This is how it looks like during flight when is activated:



Here, we are flying in the Milano area in Italy. The Points of Interest will appear as 3D icons around you, with their names and a different icon to represent their category. There are many different categories of POIs, from airports to populated places, to mountains, rivers/lakes, landmarks, cities, but also smaller features like schools, postal offices, rail stations, etc.

With an Hotkey (CTRL+F11 by default), you'll be able to immediately turn off/on all the 3D POIs, which is very convenient in case you want to return to the standard way of flying, or if they clutter the screen (more on declutter options later on)


The coverage is GLOBAL, this means you'll have the Entire World at your disposal. Here's another screenshot, flying around Munich, Germany:




An example of a famous landmark here. The Olympia Park is categorized as a Park, so it shown with its appropriate icon:




Another screenshot, flying close to Haneda International Airport, in Tokyo:




Wikipedia at your disposal

One of the more innovative features in XPOI, is the ability to query Wikipedia, to give you more informations about your surroundings: by pressing another Hotkey (CTRL+F9 by default), the Wikipedia menu will appear:



All geotagged Wikipedia entries for the area you are flying will be presented, sorted by distance from your position. Similar to the default ATC airport list, the menu is dynamically updated while you are flying. When you select an entry from the menu, a red arrow will appear over the object and a short summary of the relevant Wikipedia article will appear on top of the screen, like this:



In this case, we selected the BMW building in Munich, and the information is displayed...in Italian Smiley

Of course, we have a solution for this, by opening the XPOI Settings menu:



It's possible to change your preferred language for the Wikipedia articles. Of course, the number of articles and coverage can change depending on languages, because that's how Wikipedia works. Usually, querying in English will get more results, but it's nice to know that the information is available in many languages. Here's the same article, when English is set as the preferred language:



But wait...there's more...


Embedded Browser

If you want to know the FULL story about a specific point of interest, there's an Embedded Browser in the product! By using another Hotkey (CTRL+F10 by default) a window will open, pointing to the full Wikipedia article for that place, like this:



The embedded browser is compatible with FSX Full Screen mode, but can also be used on a separate monitor, which is very convenient.


Wikipedia compass

In case the selected point is not in front of you, there's an handy Wikipedia compass that will help you locating the point, just follow the pointed arrow:




Flying in the "Middle of nowhere"

It's usually very boring, because you might not know the place, or the detail might not be very exciting, apart from vast areas of autogen...with XPOI, you'll find new interest flying into unknown areas, here's an example of the 1st airport in the FSX list, "108 miles ranch", which is located somewhere in Canada:



Of course, we still have Wikipedia info at our disposal:






Another interesting place: Juneau, Alaska:



"I wonder what mountain is that...". This is something you'll never say again, with XPOI:



Note that some icons are bigger than others, because things like mountains are supposed to be visible from a greater distance than, for example, schools or postal offices.


Screen cluttering and customization

In some areas, you might find there's simply too much information available to be able to clearly make out all features. For example, here's a screenshot taken on the runway of the Tahiti airport:



Using the XPOI Settings menu, it's possible to customize very precisely which points will appear on screen:



POIs are categorized with a Major Class (like Population, Hydrology, Vegetation, etc.) and with several sub-classes. It's possible to turn on/off an entire major class, or to fine-tune the settings to selectively turn on/off individual sub-classes. For example, you might want to turn on Airports, but turn off Hotels, even if they belong to the same Major class.

Here's Tahiti again, with only Populated Places on:



Wikipedia, even in this far far away place, is still available:




The Database

There's an inherent problem with any kind of geographical tool: the database and the issue of keeping updated. The quality/coverage of the database can really make or break a product and if distributing a complete database can be painful, keeping it updated it's even worse.

XPOI solved this problem at its root: there NO DATABASE included in the product!

The database is entirely online, and it's not maintained by FSDreamTeam. It's mantained by the whole Geographical Community at www.geonames.org, and everyone is able to contribute to it, even you!

There's no way a single company might be able to provide such huge amount of data for prices compatible with a Fllight Sim addon, let alone keep it updated. Being entirely online based, XPOI will be constantly updated, even as we speak because each day, hundreds of new data, correction, small fixes, are always put in and they will appear immediately in XPOI, while you are flying!

Everybody is contributing to this database, not just Flight Sim users. But you wil be able to contribute as well, if you want. By registering for free to the Geonames.org website, you'll be able to post your own fixes, and these will be immediately available to everybody, both to the Geographical community, AND to other XPOI users. As the time passes, XPOI will automatically gets better, thanks to users contributions.

Of course, the same applies to Wikipedia articles, which are based on the same approach.

At this time, the database contains over 8 milion of points, plus about 800.000 Wikipedia articles in the different languages (English alone has, as of today, 171.000 articles). But these numbers will of course keep growing in the future.


Availability

XPOI will be released in mid October, probably the 16h, the price is not set in stone, but it should be in the range of 21-22 EUR, about 29$. As usual, we'll offer a freely downloadable Trial version, that will work for about 20 minutes at time, in selected areas around the World.
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Razgriz
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2008, 11:58:30 PM »

Truly Amazing.  I'll be a buyer.
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Voodoo
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2008, 12:19:35 AM »

It's like having your own Guided Tour Of The World.

I love this idea - how many things would you miss, flying in unfamiliar territory, without your own personal tour guide like this. It's like Google Earth meets FSX...in style. Geography lessons in school might never be the same again.  Cheesy

Of course I guess a few labels would show up for things that weren't modelled in the scenery unless you had a local scenery pack for the area in question...but even then there is still the simple interest value of learning where a lot of these things were, geographically speaking, even if they weren't modelled.

Nice one chaps!
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 02:25:48 AM by Voodoo » Logged

FSX Community Tweaks and Fixes at Voodoo's Hangar - voodoo.wikispaces.com
bkircher
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2008, 01:36:48 AM »

WOW, now that looks like a very cool little tool. Whether or not I buy it, idk, but it still looks really cool and different. I dont think I have seen a product that does this for fs. WOW

This engine thing is really cool. I wish I was a member of your team, haha, then I would know what else this thing is capable of!! Looks to limitless. What would be really cool to know is how this was thought up/created. Not the POI, the engine itself, but I know you wont tell. I hear that after the new year that aes is going solely to fsx once implimented to fsx. Buckle up people. Im sensing competition between these two if thats true.
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JamesChams
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2008, 04:08:35 AM »

Virtuali,

I used a limited version of something like this in FS2002 by Abacus called CoPilot with VFR Compass but it was limited to just airport/regional information.  This is a great idea for FSX especially in custom scenery packages like Cloud9's Xcity Rome where there is a lot there we would like to see/tour out of interest etc.   Only, please, make the user interface for the Coult key assignments for this release; Thank you.

Also, Can you ask the interface for the location of a landmark and have it's compass direct you to it's location? (eg. At Rome, can I ask for the Vatican and it point me to where it is in relation to me? )

Gratci!  Smiley
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 04:44:53 AM by JamesChams » Logged

"Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. (Prov.13:20 NIV)
Thank you very much.
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virtuali
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2008, 12:23:55 PM »

Also, Can you ask the interface for the location of a landmark and have it's compass direct you to it's location? (eg. At Rome, can I ask for the Vatican and it point me to where it is in relation to me? )

That exactly what you can do with the Wikipedia menu, as shown on several screenshots. When you open it, a list of all Wikipedia objects in your area will be presented, sorted by distance. When you select one, it will give both the short summary on top, and the compass will guide you to it, if the object is not directly on front of you. If it's on front of you, the red "Info" arrow will rotate over it.

Note that the menu will not stop your flight and, since all the choices are numbered from 0 to 9, including the switch page commands, you can probably choose the point with just one hand, then keep the airplane flying with the other. A separate menu that stops FSX when you choose the point would have been cumbersome because in some areas there are so many interest point, that stopping the simulation to open the menu for each one would made the program very clunky to use.
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JamesChams
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2008, 09:52:59 PM »

Note that the menu will not stop your flight and, since all the choices are numbered from 0 to 9, including the switch page commands, you can probably choose the point with just one hand, then keep the airplane flying with the other. A separate menu that stops FSX when you choose the point would have been cumbersome because in some areas there are so many interest point, that stopping the simulation to open the menu for each one would made the program very clunky to use.

Virtuali,

Si, Gratci!  But I use SpeechBuddy (voice commands) for those including your ParkMe and YouControl now.  But I see the wisdom of your interface and like it very much.  I'll be investing in this too; After this is released are you then on to DFW & F-14 or do you have more goodies in the basket before then (You got me real curious now and perhaps a little impatient for the Tomcat too)?  Wink

Also, please make the Key map assignment interface, so I don't have to keep modifying the "keymapping.ini" file for all those new key functions; Gratci!
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 10:22:32 PM by JamesChams » Logged

"Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. (Prov.13:20 NIV)
Thank you very much.
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  James F. Chams

Bruce Hamilton
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2008, 05:44:33 PM »

Looks very interesting, too bad it can't be done for FS9.  Sad
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Dillon
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2008, 12:31:28 AM »

Interesting... 

I'm glade to see FSDT exploit features of FSX...  For me the whole joy of flying GA with a map in hand in the real world is the fun of finding landmarks as you fly along your route.  I'm still looking for that utility to come around that vectors me around storm cells and/or spaces AI on approach so we don't run into each other.  Maybe it's too much wishful thinking on my part...  Wink
« Last Edit: October 07, 2008, 09:13:36 AM by Dillon » Logged
jcupido
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2008, 06:52:03 PM »

Why can't this be done for FS9?  It is already beyond the FSX coding scheme so how is it any different in FS9 with regards to limitation in this respect?
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virtuali
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« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2008, 07:25:19 PM »

Why can't this be done for FS9?  It is already beyond the FSX coding scheme so how is it any different in FS9 with regards to limitation in this respect?

The main program logic itself is separate from any flight sim, yes. But there are large parts of it which are heavily dependent on Simconnect features, like anything that concerns the display of 3d objects in the scenery, menu creation, handling of user input, hotkeys, etc.

That doesn't mean it wouldn't be doable in any way in FS9, but that would mean the two versions would be so vastly different and would require so different approaches, that it wouldn't be possible to make it economically feasible in dual version anymore. User support would be very complex because, everything that we can do in FSX with Simconnect that works in a documented and, more or less, supported way, would require reverse engineering and access to undocumented calls (if not direct access in memory) in FS9 so, a problem found in a version would probably require an entirely different solution in the other.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2008, 08:43:30 PM by virtuali » Logged

bkircher
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« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2008, 08:37:32 PM »

I think its good that people/developers are starting to go solely to fsx. I wouldnt be surprised if FDST went 100% fsx here in the near future.
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virtuali
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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2008, 09:36:15 AM »

All off-topic messages has been removed. This was supposed to be a product announcement for XPOI, not another YAPD (yet another pointless discussion) of FSX vs FS9...
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JamesChams
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2008, 04:49:52 PM »

...This was supposed to be a product announcement for XPOI, not another YAPD (yet another pointless discussion) of FSX vs FS9...

Virtuali,

We agree on this; However we were wondering if XPOI was the beginning of FSDT's move from FS9/FSX product/support to straight FSX ONLY products/support; and as I mentioned, I believe you said you'd do that with the F-14 as an FSX ONLY product.  But, as of recently, we're seeing XPOI (and perhaps a few others in your goodie basket) so, we're still wondering; Now its fair to ask that of you in this forum or should we post this question some where else? And, We hope that you'll find the time to answer us directly. Grazie!  Cheesy

BTW: I'm not interested at all in *YAPD* or any other "Old Lady" discussions; I think you know that by now.  Wink
« Last Edit: October 12, 2008, 08:18:26 PM by JamesChams » Logged

"Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. (Prov.13:20 NIV)
Thank you very much.
Sincerely,
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  James F. Chams

virtuali
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2008, 04:55:45 PM »

We agree on this; However we were wondering if XPOI was the beginning of FSDT's move from FS9/FSX product/support to straight FSX ONLY products/support;

It's still premature to drop FS9 support now, for airport scenery, because we can port an FSX airport to FS9 in a few days, it would be stupid not to take advantadge of the opportunity.

But any other type of product we'll release, be it airplane, utility or everything else except airports, will be FSX only.
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